Imagine dining outdoors at a beloved friend’s country estate – perhaps a friend who just happens to have a gifted chef and a few excellent servers on their staff. That’s a meal at The Table at De Meye wine estate. Tables are set up in the shade of spreading oak trees, with picnic blankets dotted here and there for a leisurely stretch after your generous lunch. Guests are encouraged to linger for the afternoon, enjoying the slow pace of farm life. (Don’t worry, there are cosy dining rooms within the whitewashed farmhouse for winter days.) Owners Leigh Williamson and chef Brendan Thorncroft are truly committed to using only fresh, seasonal produce and supporting local small-scale farmers and delis. Because of this, the set, three-course, sharing-style menu changes weekly – sometimes daily – meaning there’s always something new and delicious to try. Expect country cooking elevated by technique and a respect for tradition, delivering delicious results in every dish. Plates are neat, simple and not over-styled, but showcase the vibrancy of colour one would expect from a true farm-to-fork experience. At the time of writing, the bread course is a freshly baked baguette from Joostenberg Deli served with a curry aioli, picked baby beetroot and Tokara Kalamata olives. The sweetness and tanginess of the pickle pairs well with the rich, warm aioli. Alongside that is melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi in a light, white-wine velouté with fresh asparagus. Your mains to share include succulent and tender Karoo lamb shoulder, slow-cooked to perfection for 15 hours at 90C in a red-wine stock with rosemary. The vegetarian sides are by no means an afterthought. There’s a simple but perfectly fresh salad of cos lettuce heads with a Dalewood Huguenot cheese and lemon dressing. Roasted orange sweet potato is served on a smear of home-made ricotta whipped with Dalewood feta and loads of cracked black pepper; and topped with butter-soaked sultanas, a fresh gremolata and toasted flaked almond. The roasted white cabbage has a toasted coconut-and-tahini sauce, bringing delicious warmth to the meal and complementing the lamb very well. Dessert is a deliciously sweet and salty affair of freshly made cinnamon churros served with home-made caramelised white chocolate ice cream on a hazelnut praline. On another day, you may be treated to the chocolate hot pot with blueberry ice cream – a decadent, warm pudding with sticky nut crumbs that creates a perfect chewy texture in contact with the ice cream. Lunch at The Table at De Meye is a very reasonable R550 per person, considering not only the quality of the food but the very generous portions.
The team is happy to accommodate vegetarians, pescatarians (fish is ordered in fresh) and vegans, as well as doing their best to cater to gluten-intolerant diners. You’ll need to make these requests when booking, so the kitchen team can plan ahead, as everything is freshly prepared on the day.
The wine list is in keeping with the restaurant’s philosophy of sourcing from local suppliers. It includes De Meye wines, all available by the carafe and the bottle, as well as several options from the surrounding area (by the bottle only). In addition to the usual beers, ciders and non-alcoholic options, the drinks list includes a few treats from the area, such as the Wild at Heart jugs (made with Wild at Heart cordial from Wellington), Six Dogs blue gin from Worcester, and Dalla Cia grappa from Stellenbosch.
Service is friendly, attentive and well timed. Both Leigh and Brendan interact with all the tables, creating that ‘lunch at a friend’s home’ feeling. There’s a real farm-style hospitality, from arrival to departure.
It’s impossible to dine at The Table without feeling as though the slower pace of country life has, at least temporarily, erased all your cares. Tables are spread out across the lawn, so while it’s convivial, you never feel on top of anyone else. Children are welcome, however their bikes, balls and scooters are not, so as not to disturb other diners.